It’s one thing for an Academy member with a need for cuddly-bear emotion to vote for The King’s Speech as Best Picture — I get that. But it’s another thing for a hot-shot critic like the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Carrie Rickey to endorse this mushy mindset. Plus she’s wrong in her assessment of Jesse Eisenberg‘s Mark Zuckerberg character.
“Why is The King’s Speech expected to win if The Social Network is The Movie That Speaks to the Moment?,” she asks. “Because while both are about entitled individuals, finally The Social Network is about a guy who doesn’t question his entitlement and The King’s Speech about a guy who is grateful to those who help him maintain his entitlement — and title. The takeaway of Speech is one of gratitude [and] a warmer, fuzzier feeling than the ambiguity of Network.”
Then comes the kicker: “If I were voting, I’d give Speech Best Picture and Network Best Director.”
In other words, Rickey is saying she agrees with the conventional wisdom (which every critic who knows a thing or two has mocked during this Oscar season) that warmer, fuzzier films do deserve the Best Picture Oscar. Meaning…what, that she also approves of Driving Miss Daisy having won the 1989 Best Picture Oscar?
I’ve gotten and agreed with the emotional argument from time to time (like with Titanic), but The King’s Speech doesn’t really kill emotionally — it marginally soothes. As New Yorker critic Anthony Lane wrote last November, “To a large extent, The King’s Speech is…one of those comedies of threatless reassurance [that] revels in the restitution of order.”
And like all geniuses from the beginning of civilization until today, Eisenberg’s Zuckerberg doesn’t question his entitlement (i.e., his vision and intelligence) because he knows what he knows and that’s what all geniuses have as an ace in the hole — supreme confidence. They might be faulty in the friendship and loyalty areas, but no genius worth his or her salt questions the value of his/her intellectual percolation. Anyone who looks at a genius and says “where’s the heart and the soul?” just doesn’t get it. That’s like looking at a racehorse and saying “why can’t he play the piano?”